The late pre-roman iron age background
It is generally accepted that virtually all villas in the European provinces of theRoman Empire were built and occupied by indigenous inhabitants. Why did they choose any particular one of several forms of villa? Various factors must have influenced choice: cost, obviously; the range of forms available; and suitability to the social circumstances and aspirations of the builder. Cost, which is principally in labour, is at present beyond conjecture and the availability of house types will be discussed later (chapter 16). A satisfactory understanding of the third point would entail knowledge of family structure, number of dependants, numbers of servants or slaves, and the pattern of hospitality. It goes without saying that much of the requisite information is hard to come by, yet a beginning can be made by considering the kinds of house in use on the eve of the conquest.